On Thursday, January 23, 2020, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, along with the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice at the New York Bar Association and the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), hosted a presentation on original research conducted on access to justice and transitional justice in the Gambia. Six Penn Law students presented their findings.
For over two decades, Yahya Jammeh was in power in the Gambia, his authoritarian rule ended by election in 2016. In 2017, the new government of the Gambia launched a transitional justice process. In the summer of 2019, Penn Law undertook a study of the state of justice in the country.
As part of this study, a delegation of law students visited the capital city, Banjul, where they interviewed members of civil society, journalists, attorneys, human rights defenders, activists, academics, civil servants, security agents, and government officials including members of the Constitutional Review Commission. The research project was overseen by Penn Law Associate Dean of International Programs Rangita de Silva de Alwis, who also acts as Advisor to the Executive Director of UN Women.
De Silva commented that, as a leading law school, “Penn Law has a role to play in strengthening the rule of law and legal institutions around the world.” “This Report presented to Attorney General Ba Tambadou of Gambia will serve as a standard-setting reference for legislative action, policy, and programmatic change by the Ministry of Justice as they take steps to harmonize national laws with international and regional obligations,” de Silva said.
De Silva continued by expressing admiration for the students, Fatoumatah Waggeh, Abraham Moussako, Meroua Zouai, Kunal Kanodia, Ryan Plesh and Brendan Holman, who led the first law student-led fact-finding mission to the Gambia, noting, “They are pioneers in the field and have received important exposure as independent fact-finders.” De Silva also added, “I am grateful to the Chubb Rule of Law Fund for their overarching commitment to liberal world order and to the financial support of this seminal initiative. I thank Dean Ruger and Professor Regina Austin for their institutional commitment to this extraordinary mission.”
The Executive Director of Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice, Alex Papachristou, and the Deputy Executive Director and Director of Programs of the ICTJ, Anna Myriam Roccatello, introduced the event and spoke about the work of their respective organizations.
Read the report here.